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Gaulding confident about challenge

August 19th, 2014 9:57 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Gaulding confident about challenge

Gray Gaudling often finds himself mixing it up with drivers twice his age in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In the case of four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. it’s someone more than three times older than him. 

However, the 16-year-old from Colonial Heights, Virginia, said he isn’t intimidated by someone’s veteran status. In fact, he said he’s ready to challenge all the stars of the Truck Series as well as Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch in tonight’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Racing against Kyle Busch is good,” said Gaulding, who is part of the NASCAR Next program. “To be the best, you have to beat the best. Ultimately, you want to win. I not only want to beat Kyle Busch, but the 35 other competitors coming up.”

It’s quite a bold proclamation from someone, who actually doesn’t have a driver’s license due to his racing and testing commitments. But, you also have to consider how far the driver of the No. 20 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet has come in a short time.

At age 12, he was signed to a driver development program by Kevin Harvick and a year later he became the youngest Super Late Model winner in the history of the Pro All Star Series.

He has drawn some comparisons to Busch for his aggressive driving style. His last-lap bump of Cole Custer to win last November’s K&N Pro Series West race at Phoenix even led some to comment it reminded them of Dale Earnhardt spinning out Terry Labonte to win at Bristol.

Gaulding makes no apologies for his aggressive nature, which led him to become the youngest winner in K&N West history at 15 years and eight months.

He’s continued to be a force in the K&N Pro Series, only this time the East Division. He has seven top-10 finishes in 14 starts this season, but believes the record should be better.

“We should have three or four wins by now,” Gaulding said. “We’ve had tough luck, mechanical problems. I think we can win races. Lady Luck has just got to be on our side.”

There are still some adjustments, racing in the Camping World Truck Series, although he did have an impressive fourth-place qualifying effort at St. Louis. While his average finish is just 20th in four races entered this season, Gaulding feels his Chevrolet team is starting to make some gains on the Toyotas like Busch and Darrell Wallace Jr. drive.

He does admit there are some challenges with the trucks, especially at a fast place like Bristol.

“The trucks are very aero-sensitive,” he said. “You have to make sure you’re ready to turn at the next corner. But, I’m a racer and enjoy whatever I’m racing.”

It has been the case since he was four years old competing on the motocross tracks near the Virginia and North Carolina border. His family was always into racing and one activity was watching the NASCAR events with his grandfather and his father. 

Gray grew up a Jeff Gordon fan, and like Gordon, he wants to make it in NASCAR’s top series at a young age. In fact, he wants to beat Gordon in that regard and challenge Joey Logano’s record as the youngest driver to race at the Cup level.

“The main goal is to be in the Cup Series when I’m 18 years old,” Gaulding said. “I think in the right opportunity, it can happen and I can get the job done.”

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